We’re in the midst of our teaching series FOR TODAY. Last week, Allen Cruz delivered a powerful message to kick off our series. Excellent job, Allen!
Two years ago, Allen and I had been invited to come down to sing some songs at Whitewater’s Family Fest at Sticker’s Grove. We were both working different jobs up in Canton, OH.
Both of us were struggling with where we were in life. I remember I was hanging some drywall in our living room and Allen and I were having this really serious conversation, which was uncharacteristic. Normally we would just be talking about comic books, Marvel characters, or Star Wars… which, let me be clear… all of those things should be taken very seriously.
I remember this conversation clear as day, two years ago… talking about how both of us were miserable. We were so sick and tired of feeling the daily tension of not doing what we were supposed to be doing. It’s not that we knew exactly what we were supposed to be doing… we just knew what we were currently doing with our lives wasn’t fulfilling. We both knew there had to be more.
Does anyone ever feel this way? Like there’s gotta be more than what we keep going through lately?
So Allen and I were having this honest talk about how knowing there’s gotta be more God has for us, but not seeing it yet. Living in the now and the not yet. Living in that tension was having a serious impact on our mental health.
We talked about how stressed we were. We talked about how anxious we both were. We talked about how worry was starting to overwhelm us.
And here’s one of the things I want us to wrestle with today….
Our mental health is tied directly to our ability or inability to know what is in our control.
Two years ago, we had no idea what God was up to. Two years ago, we both had worries and fears and frustrations with not knowing what was in our future.
Listen, just because it’s out of our control, doesn’t mean He’s not in control. Just because we can’t see Him working, doesn’t mean He’s not working. Just because things seem out of our control, doesn’t mean He’s not in control.
Our peace… our shalom… our ability to breathe easy regardless of our situations is not connected to being able to control everything, but to our ability to let go and realize how little control we actually have.
Any control freaks in the room?
Is anyone married to a control freak?
How’s your mental health been these past 18 months?
Can we just be really honest with each other right now…?
I’m tired of going through the motions. I’m tired of walking on eggshells. I’m tired of feeling like at any moment I’m going to crack. I’m tired of defaulting to just yelling at my kids. I’m tired of feeling alone.
I’m tired of having the same voices run over and over through my mind, telling me it’s not gonna get any better, I’m not enough, that I don’t have what it takes.
Does anyone relate?
In Matthew 28 Jesus says, "Come to me all of you who are weary and I will give you rest."
Is anyone getting weary a little more often lately?
We need Jesus y’all… not another news cycle!
These last 18 months have been a lot harder than many of us are willing to admit.
These last 18 months have exposed a lot of things that were lying dormant in each of us.
The last 18 months haven’t always been easy.
And here’s the deal… I think it’s going to take a lot longer than any of us want to admit to actually recover from all of this.
I believe the amount of time it’s going to take us to recover from all of this is equal to or greater than the amount of time it took us to go through all of this.
Let’s bring it really close to home. We’ve all been going through a lot. Anxiety is going through the roof and depression is going through the basement. These two things are higher and deeper than ever before.
For those of you who call Whitewater home…
Each of you has been navigating all things COVID. Each of you has been navigating politics. Each of you has been navigating racial unrest. Each of you has been navigating the succession of your senior pastor. On top of all that, each of you has been navigating all of your OWN junk.
Seriously… it’s been a lot.
Mask… NO Mask; Vax… NO Vax; I like this new guy, Jon… I’m not sure about this new guy, Jon; I’m happy David is moving on… I’m angry David is moving on; I like skinny jeans… why in the world would you ever wear skinny jeans; All Lives Matter… Black Lives Matter… Blue Lives Matter… Purple Lives Matter; We live in a RED house in a RED state…We live in a BLUE house in a BLUE state...
Can we all just agree that we’re all a mess… and we all need Jesus?!
Can we all just agree that Jesus died for every single one of us...that his love is for Every. Single. One of us… not just some of us?!
Can we all just agree that He is on the throne and we’re not? That we’re called to LOVE GOD AND LOVE PEOPLE with EVERTYHING WE HAVE??
Can we all just take a time out and breathe?
'Cause, listen…. If we don’t take it upon ourselves to take back our minds, to take back our peace, to take a time out… we’re not gonna get one.
The world is full of crazy right now… and it’s not slowing down to check-in to see how we’re all doing and ask if we need a little break.
Can we all just talk a little less and love a little more?
Like seriously, can we just be quiet? The world doesn’t need our opinion right now… it needs Jesus.
If what you’re posting isn’t a cute pic of your family or your new puppy or if it isn’t pointing people to Jesus… stop posting and be quiet.
Jesus is on the throne. He is in control. We are not. Even when we can’t see it or don’t feel it… He’s still working! Amen?!
Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus speaks right to the heart of all of our crazy, "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."
In Philippians 4:6-7, the apostle Paul says it this way…"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
There it is. The Son of God and the Apostle, Paul. Two of the greatest authors, teachers, preachers, leaders, the world has ever known… just laid it out for us.
That’s cute… sounds nice… but just because they said it, doesn’t mean it’s easy to do, right?
First… acknowledge the difference between worry and genuine concern. Worry immobilizes. Concern compels you to action.
So, how do we turn down the worry and turn up the peace?
First… Pray About Everything.
Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. And then pray some more.
Paul says, "pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace."
Prayer is our lifeline. Prayer is our power cord. Prayer is the first, second, and last option.
Prayer is our connection to the divine creator of the universe.
Pray about everything. Pray so much, you don’t have time to worry.
I think we lose sight of the power of prayer in our lives because we don’t realize we’re in the midst of living out the answered prayers of those who have come before us.
There’s a genealogy to our lives. We all know this, we all have a family tree.
But there’s also a genealogy to our spiritual lives. All of us have spiritual parents and grandparents and great grandparents. People who were praying for us… about us… on our behalf… before any of us were even a spark in our momma’s eye.
Here’s what I mean. All of us right now, in this room and watching on TV and online, all are in the midst of living out the answered prayers of people many of us have never met.
What were you doing 15 years ago at this time? September 2006. Can you remember? Some of you weren’t alive yet.
In September 2006, I was a guest of the State in one of their finest correctional facilities. And to find out more about that story… keep coming back.
What were you doing 15 years ago?
This time, 15 years ago, Whitewater broke ground on this property for the very first time. The congregation was roughly 350 people. Now, with our online campus, were in the thousands.
In 2006, a group of 350 people committed themselves to a mission and vision… to reach lost people. To invest their time, talents, and treasures into a future they couldn’t yet see.
They prayed for people they didn’t know… people they may never meet. But, they prayed they might one day meet Jesus because of how he would one day use this property to offer help, hope, and home in Jesus.
If you were a part of the group of 350 people from 2006… would you please stand up?
In September 2006, you were praying bold prayers for God to move. For lives to be transformed. For the lost to be found. For God to use this ministry to transform lives for the Kingdom.
Are you ready for this…?
Two months later, in November of 2006… I surrendered my life to Jesus.
You weren’t praying specifically for Jon Tisevich. But in September 2006, God heard your prayers and began preparing the way for your next Senior Pastor to be standing here 15 years later.
All of you are sitting in a building or watching on TV or online because of someone else’s prayers for you to be connected to a church that would bring you HOPE and a HOME in Jesus.
We are all answers to prayer. PRAY about everything.
Second… Invite God’s People In.
Invite God’s people into your life to help you walk through life. Whether that’s a professional Christian counselor or a sold-out follower of Jesus.
I have no shame in my game. I intentionally talk to professional counselors. I intentionally invite older, wiser followers of Jesus to speak into my life. I intentionally go for walks in the woods with an elder on a regular basis. And this is when things are going well!
Invite real people into the real story of you so they are already there for you when the real crap hits the fan.
Real people. Not trolls online that you don’t share life with. Real people who love Jesus and want God’s best for you.
I’m not gonna win any brownie points here… but sorry, not sorry.
Too many of us are looking to strangers on social media to solve our problems instead of looking to sold-out Jesus followers we can live, breathe, and interact with.
Please, stop looking to Instagram for your peace. Stop trying to live up to the Insta-Life. Stop comparing your real life to the over-filtered – perfectly posed – INSTA life of others. You’re comparing yourself to a filtered façade.
Comparison is the thief of Joy.
Instagram wasn’t created for you to have a social network to connect with friends. It was made to get you addicted to their platform so their company could make money.
I love what our Youth ministry is doing these days! So proud of them. They recently sent this out to the parents who have kids in YTH. This article is so good… and so horrible at the same time:
According to internal documents published by the Wall Street Journal, they reveal that Facebook knows how damaging its Instagram app can be for teen girls. 40% of Instagram users are 22 or younger. 32% of teen girls say when they feel bad about their bodies, Instagram makes them feel worse. 6% percent of Instagram users who have experienced suicidal thoughts trace those thoughts back to the app. Facebook is also fully aware that the way Instagram currently functions creates an addictive product, one that could be facilitating negative thought patterns. Even still, Facebook plans to proceed with a version of Instagram made for users 13 and younger. One politician went as far as to call Facebook's attitude toward these findings "outright neglect."
Parents… students… humans… please invite in sold-out Jesus followers to talk about how you are REALLY doing. Parents… please talk to your kids about how they are REALLY doing. And when they say they’re fine, keep asking. Spend enough time in their world that they know you are for them and they know they can talk to you without being judged and condemned.
Invite God’s People In.
Third…Commit to a PLAN For Today.
Matthew 6:34, Jesus says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."
Worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. It sounds harsh… but what else did Jesus say? "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?"
Worrying is wasted time, but planning for how to get through TODAY is time well spent.
Planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps, schedules, and trusting God’s guidance. When we do that well, careful planning helps eliminate worry.
In contrast, worrying only allows us to be consumed with fear, which leads to us having a hard time trusting others and God.
Now, for all those who suffer from the disease… CONTROLFREAKITIS…
Too often, our worry and anxiety stem from telling God what our plans are and then freaking out when things don’t go our way.
Proverbs 16:3: "Commit to the Lord whatever you do…"
Commit our ideas… commit our schedules… commit our hopes… commit our dreams… commit them to the Lord…
"…and HE will establish your plans."
Give everything to the Lord FIRST, then HE will breathe wisdom and guidance into our plans.
When this gets out of order, we will be out of order.
Here’s a simple plan you can take to the Lord to get you through your day. I want you to say these out loud with me or write them down:
From pillow to pillow… Morning to Night… I will trust God.
I will meet life on life’s terms.
I will take responsibility for my life.
I will choose love over fear.
I will choose to be kind to myself and to others.
I steward well what little or much God has given me.
I will look for ways to secretly bless others.
I will admit I am not in control.
Here’s the reality of what’s actually in our control…it’s the ABCs of Control: our actions, our behavior, and our choices.
Everything else… it’s not ours. And, I don’t know what your momma taught you, but my momma taught me when we mess with things that aren’t ours, we’re gonna be in a world of hurt.
My prayer is each of us will take a time out, to sit with our Father in Heaven; to allow HIM to transform our worry before it transforms us, that each of us will PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING, INVITE GOD’S PEOPLE INTO OUR LIVES, and CREATE A PLAN FOR TODAY.
Father, grant us the SERENITY to accept the things we cannot change.
The COURAGE to change the things we can.
And the WISDOM to know the difference.